Eyeglass Frame Materials
When it comes to choosing eyeglass lenses, it’s no longer a simple choice of “glass or plastic?” Let’s look at your many options in eyeglass lenses in detail:
Want thinner, lighter lenses? Choose a high index lens material.
Nearly everyone can benefit from thinner, lighter lenses. High index lenses can be up to 50% thinner than regular glass or plastic lenses, and they’re usually much lighter, too.
Though these lenses are especially beneficial if you have a strong eyeglasses prescription, they can make a noticeable difference in the appearance of virtually any pair of glasses. High index lenses bend light more efficiently than regular glass or plastic lenses, so less lens material is required to correct your vision.
Various high index lenses are available today in different price points based on how much thinner they are compared to regular plastic lenses. The lenses are classified by their “index of refraction” (or “refractive index”).
Generally, lenses with a higher index of refraction will be thinner (and usually more expensive) than lenses with a lower index. The index of refraction of regular plastic lenses is 1.50. The refractive index of high index plastic lenses ranges from 1.53 to 1.74. Those in the range of 1.53 to 1.59 are about 20% thinner than regular plastic lenses, whereas 1.74 high index lenses are about half the thickness of regular plastic lenses.
Most popular lens designs (single vision, bifocal, progressive, photochromic, etc.) come in high-index materials, and your doctor or optician will know which ones are available in your prescription. Bifocal and trifocal high index lenses are also available, though the selection is more limited.
Note: High index lenses reflect more light than regular glass or plastic lenses, so anti-reflective (AR) coating is highly recommended for these lenses (see below).
Slim down with aspheric lenses
To make high index lenses even more attractive, most of them have an “aspheric” design. This means that instead of having a round (or “spherical”) curve on the front surface, these lenses have a curve that gradually changes from the center to the lens to the periphery. This makes aspheric lenses noticeably flatter for a slimmer, more attractive lens profile.
Though aspheric lenses offer advantages for all prescriptions, they are particularly beneficial if you are farsighted. Aspheric lenses greatly reduce the magnified, “bug-eye” look caused by regular, highly curved lenses for farsightedness, and they greatly reduce the “bulge” of the lenses from the frame. And because they have a slim profile, aspheric lenses have less lens mass, making them much lighter. Aspheric lenses also provide superior peripheral vision compared to conventional lenses.
Note: Because they have flatter curves than regular lenses, aspheric lenses may cause more noticeable reflections. Anti-reflective (AR) coating is recommended for these lenses (see below).
Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses: Tough as nails
Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses are special high index lenses that offer superior impact resistance. These lenses are up to 10 times more impact resistant than regular plastic lenses, making them an ideal choice for children’s eyewear, safety glasses, and for anyone with an active lifestyle who wants a thinner, lighter, safer lens.
Polycarbonate lenses have a refractive index of 1.59, making them 20% to 25% thinner than regular plastic lenses. They are also up to 30% lighter than regular plastic lenses, making them a good choice for anyone who is sensitive to the weight of eyeglasses on their nose.
Trivex lenses may be slightly thicker than polycarbonate lenses, but they provide comparable impact resistance and, like polycarbonate lenses, they block 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
AR coating: Better vision, better appearance
All eyeglass lenses reflect some light, reducing the amount of light that enters the eye to form visual images. This can have an impact on vision, especially under low-light conditions, like when driving at night. Lens reflections can also cause glare, further reducing vision in these situations.
The amount of light reflected depends on the lens material. Conventional glass or plastic lenses reflect about 8% of incident light, so only 92% of available light enters the eye for vision. Thinner, lighter lenses made of high index materials reflect up to 50% more light than regular glass or plastic lenses (up to 12% of available light).
Anti-reflective (AR) coating reduces lens reflections and allows more light to enter the eye for better night vision. Regardless of the lens material, eyeglass lenses with AR coating transmit over 99% of available light to the eye.
By eliminating surface reflections, anti-reflective coating also makes your lenses nearly invisible. This greatly improves the appearance of your eyewear and allows others to see your eyes, not the reflections in your glasses.
When cleaning lenses with anti-reflective coating, be sure to use the products recommended by your optician. Because AR coating eliminates reflections that can hide small scratches, you’ll want to take care not to scratch AR-coated lenses, as scratches on these lenses may be more visible than scratches on an uncoated lens.
No eyeglass lens material – not even glass – is scratch-proof. However, a lens that is treated front and back with a clear, hard coating does become more resistant to scratching, whether it's from dropping your glasses on the floor or occasionally cleaning them with a paper towel. Kids' lenses, especially, benefit from a scratch-resistant hard coat.
Nearly all high index lenses (including polycarbonate) come with a factory-applied scratch-resistant coating for added durability. This coating is optional for regular plastic lenses. However, to safeguard your investment in your eyewear, scratch-resistant coating should be considered for all eyeglass lenses. The only exception is glass lenses, which are naturally hard and scratch-resistant.
To further protect your eyeglasses from scratches, keep your glasses in a protective case when you’re not wearing them. Also, never clean your lenses without first rinsing them with a cleaning solution or water. Rubbing a dry, dusty or dirty lens with a cleaning cloth or towel can cause scratches, even on lenses with a scratch-resistant coating.
Ultraviolet (UV) treatment
Just as you use sunscreen to keep the sun's UV rays from harming your skin, UV treatment in eyeglass lenses blocks those same rays from damaging your eyes. Overexposure to ultraviolet light is thought to be a cause of cataracts, retinal damage and other eye problems.
Most high index lenses have 100% UV protection built-in. But with regular plastic lenses, a lens treatment is required for these lenses to block all UV rays. This UV treatment does not change the appearance of the lenses and is quite inexpensive.
Photochromic lenses: Right in any light
Photochromic lenses are convenient indoor-outdoor eyeglass lenses that automatically darken to a sunglass shade outside when exposed to sunlight, and then quickly return to a clear state indoors. These lenses also provide 100% protection from the sun’s UV rays, and are available in a wide variety of lens materials and designs, including bifocal and progressive lenses.
The amount of darkening that most photochromic lenses undergo depends on how much UV radiation they are exposed to. As a general rule, these lenses won't get as dark behind the windshield of your car or truck because the glass blocks out much of the sun’s UV rays that cause the lenses to change color.
We’re here to help!
With so many new lens products available, it’s hard to know all your options and decide which lenses are best for you. Rely on our expertise to make selecting your eyeglasses easy and fun. Our trained staff welcomes the opportunity to help you find the perfect eyewear for your personal style and vision requirements.
For more information on lens coatings visit AllAboutVision.com.
Most men are interested in comfort, fit and durability when it comes to eyeglasses. While they also want style, men typically won't forsake comfort and fit just to look good.
Comfort and fit
Men: Here are some key areas to check out to make sure the eyeglass frames you choose will be comfortable and fit well.
To ensure the temples (the pieces that extend to your ears) aren’t too snug on sides of your head, choose frames are wide enough for your face. The edge of the frames should protrude slightly beyond your face so the temples don't put pressure on your head as they extend back to your ears.
Next, make sure the temples are long enough. Many frame styles are available in more than one temple length. So if you find a frame you like but the temples seem too short, ask your optician if a longer temple is available. For a comfortable fit, the curve at the end of the temple should extend over your ear without pressing down upon it.
Also, check the nosepiece for comfort and fit. Many glasses have soft, silicone nose pads that can be adjusted for a customized fit. For frames without adjustable nose pads, the frame should fit securely without pinching the bridge of your nose.
When you pick up your new eyeglasses, move your head up and down, and bend over (as if to pick up something up from the floor) to see how well your glasses stay in place. With properly adjusted nose pads and temples, your glasses should stay comfortably in place.
For extra-durable eyeglasses, consider choosing frames made from titanium, stainless steel or “memory metal.” Titanium and stainless steel are stronger and more durable than other metal frame materials, and frames made of memory metal, a titanium-based alloy, return to their original shape even if they are severely bent or twisted.
What about fashion? Five trends in men's eyeglasses
Men's frame styling has become more masculine in recent years, with classic shapes and sizes now re-born with a modern twist.
- Masculine shapes such as aviator glasses and double brow-bar styles have seen a resurgence in popularity, but in fresh colors and materials and slightly pared-down in size.
- Larger and bolder eyeglass frames are becoming popular again for men. Keep in mind that the biggest styles work best on men with larger body types. Smaller frames are still around, and still work well with smaller faces.
- Rimless and semi-rimless styles (where the eyeglass lens is held in place to the temple simply by a screw or a wire) are perfect for the man who wants a modern or minimalist look. Combine rimless frames with anti-reflective lenses and the glasses practically disappear.
- Titanium frames are very popular with men and rate high in both the function and fashion categories. These premium metal frames are super lightweight, non-corrosive, very durable and stylish as well.
- For a younger, hip or retro look, many men are turning to plastic frames. Lightweight and comfortable, plastic frames come in a wide variety of styles including bold, black '50s-style frames and modern designs with layers of colors laminated together to create a unique effect.
Time to upgrade?
Are your glasses uncomfortable? Want a new look? Visit us today to see the latest styles comfortable, fashionable frames for men of all ages.
For more information on men’s eyeglasses visit AllAboutVision.com.
Just as "one-size-fits-all" doesn't always fit, neither does one pair of eyeglasses for all situations.
Whether you want optimum vision and comfort for a specific activity, such as computer use, work, hobbies or driving, or you need glasses that provide an extra margin of safety for work or recreation, special-purpose eyeglasses will usually meet these needs better than your “everyday” glasses.
If you spend much time in front of a computer, you probably already know that eye strain, fatigue and muscle strains are common problems associated with prolonged computer use. “Computer glasses” have lenses that are specially-designed to maximize your vision at the intermediate and close-up distances you use during computer work. Computer-specific eyewear will give you the best correction for these distances and help reduce eyestrain.
Reading and hobbies
If you wear bifocals, you may find you have to tip your head back slightly to use the reading portion of the lens. That’s fine for most things, but if you want to sit and read a novel, this head-back posture can cause neck discomfort and fatigue. Often, a pair of single vision reading glasses is a much better solution for prolonged reading and other detailed near vision tasks, such as sewing or needlepoint work.
Working in the yard or with power tools
Lawn mowers, power trimmers, grinding tools and other power tools can all cause serious eye injuries from high-speed projectiles. Even something as simple as hammering a nail can cause flying debris. Safety glasses are a must for these activities.
Did you know that wearing specially-tinted eyeglass lenses can improve your visual acuity on the tennis court, golf course or on the slopes? Sport-specific eyewear can enhance performance by improving visual clarity while protecting your eyes from injury.
Driving glasses come in two different categories: sunglasses designed specifically for driving and clear prescription driving glasses. Many sunglasses made for driving feature polarized lenses to reduce glare and special tints to enhance contrast for safer, more comfortable vision on the road on sunny days. Eyeglasses for night driving should include your distance prescription and anti-reflective (AR) coating to reduce the glare from streetlights and oncoming headlights and allow more light to reach your eyes for better vision on dark roadways.
We can help
Nearly everyone can benefit from specialty eyewear. Let us know about all the different things you like to do, and we can tell you about the best special-purpose eyewear to fit your needs.
For more information on specialty eyewear visit AllAboutVision.com.
Eyeglasses are more popular today than ever, despite the availability of contact lenses and vision correction surgery.
Frame styles branded with high profile designer names are always in demand. And eyeglass frame materials have evolved with the advent of new plastics and various types of metals.
For safety glasses, you may want an extra tough plastic, such as polycarbonate. If you suffer from skin allergies, hypoallergenic metals such as titanium or stainless steel are good choices.
Certain frames are made with highly flexible metal alloys, which reduce the possibility of breakage. Spring hinges are also for added durability, and are a great option for children’s eyewear.
Eyeglass frames styles
Eyeglasses have also become quite popular as fashion accessories, with different colors and styles available to match their wardrobes.
Multi-colored inlays, composite materials, designer emblems, and enhancements such as insets of precious stones may also be found in popular frame styles.
Rimless styles have become more popular in recent years as an understated way to wear eyeglasses without obvious frames. Rimless styles mainly involve attaching plastic or metal temples directly onto the lenses rather than onto a frame.
Advances in eyeglass lenses
You also have many options when choosing the lenses for your eyeglasses. Among the most popular types of lenses and lens options prescribed today are:
- Aspheric lenses, which have a slimmer, more attractive profile than other lenses. They also eliminate that magnified, “bug-eye” look caused by some prescriptions.
- High index lenses, which are made of new materials that enable the lenses to be noticeably thinner and lighter than regular plastic lenses.
- Polycarbonate lenses are thinner, lighter and up to 10 times more impact-resistant than regular plastic lenses. These lenses are great for safety glasses, children’s eyewear, and for anyone who wants lightweight, durable lenses.
- Photochromic lenses are sun-sensitive lenses that quickly darken in bright conditions, and quickly return to a clear state in ordinary indoor lighting.
- Polarized lenses diminish glare from flat, reflective surfaces (like water) and also reduce eye fatigue.
- Anti-reflective coatings are among the most popular add-ons for lenses. They can dramatically improve the look and comfort of your glasses by minimizing the amount of light that reflects off the surface of your lenses, which also has the added benefit of reducing glare and thus easing eye fatigue.
- Other lens coatings include scratch-resistant, ultraviolet treatment, and mirror coatings.
Eyeglass lenses for presbyopia
Presbyopia is the normal, age-related loss of near focusing ability that makes reading and other close-up tasks more difficult after age 40.
This means that the usual type of eyeglass lenses you've likely been accustomed to wearing, known as single vision lenses, no longer will work well for you.
Multifocal eyeglass lenses available for presbyopia correction include:
- Bifocals: Lenses with two powers – one for distance and one for near – separated by a visible line.
- Trifocals: Lenses with three powers for seeing at varying distances – near, intermediate and far – separated by two visible lines.
- Progressive lenses: These lenses have many advantages over bifocals and trifocals because they allow the wearer to focus at many different distances, not just two or three. Because they have no lines, progressive lenses allow a smooth, comfortable transition from one distance to another.
If you see well in the distance without the need for eyeglasses, simple reading glasses with single vision lenses may be all you need to deal with near vision problems caused by presbyopia.
Advice for Buying Eyeglasses
Your appearance, personal taste and lifestyle should all be considered when choosing eyeglasses. We can help you choose frames and lenses that both complement your appearance and meet your lifestyle needs.
For more information on eyeglass basics visit AllAboutVision.com.
Need new eyeglasses? The choices in women’s frames are nearly unlimited. But that’s sometimes the problem: How do you find the frame styles that look best on you?
Narrowing down your choices
Ask yourself a few questions before shopping for eyewear:
- Do I want a frame that's delicate or bold, retro or modern, conservative or "out there"?
- Do I plan to wear this frame at work? For social occasions?
- What colors am I drawn to and look best on me?
- What are the main colors in my wardrobe?
- What face shape do I have?
- What do I like about my current eyeglasses? What do I dislike?
The answers to these questions will help your optician narrow your search to frames that you are most likely to be happy with.
Judging fit and comfort
According to eyewear industry research, most women are more interested in the way eyeglasses look, while most men are more interested in comfort and fit. But let's face it. If the frame doesn't fit well or isn't comfortable, you won't want to wear it.
Here are some tips about how to judge the fit of frames:
- To ensure the temples aren’t too snug on sides of your head, choose frames that are wide enough for your face. The edge of the frames should protrude slightly beyond your face so the temples don't put pressure on your head as they extend back to your ears.
- Are the temples long enough? The curve at the end of the temple should extend over your ear without pressing down upon it.
- Check the nosepiece for comfort and fit. Many glasses have soft, silicone nose pads that can be adjusted for a customized fit. For frames without adjustable nose pads, the frame should fit securely without pinching the bridge of your nose.
- When you pick up your new eyeglasses, move your head up and down, and bend over (as if to pick up something up from the floor) to see how well your glasses stay in place. With the properly adjusted nose pads and temples, your glasses should stay comfortably in place.
How many frames do you need?
Most women don't hesitate to buy more than one pair of shoes, so why balk at buying more than one pair of eyeglasses?
Your eyewear is as much a fashion accessory as anything else you wear. And while few of us have an unlimited budget, money spent on multiple pairs of eyeglasses is well spent – especially if you have a varied wardrobe for work, home and social wear.
If you’re really on a tight budget, then by all means choose one frame that you'll be happy wearing with any outfit and in any situation. But it doesn't mean you have to choose a plain, thin metal frame if you really like eyewear that’s bold and colorful. Remember, this frame is going to be on your face every single day, and you have to like how it looks on you.
Let us help
Our optical dispensary has a large selection of the latest styles in women’s frames. We can help you find the best eyewear to complement your facial features, shape and coloring, and help you choose frames that match your personality and wardrobe.
For more information on women’s eyeglasses visit AllAboutVision.com.
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